Jayanthi (actress)

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Kamala Kumari

(1945-01-06) 6 January 1945 (age 77)
OccupationActress, producer
Years active1960–present
Spouse(s)Peketi Sivaram

Kamala Kumari (born 6 January 1945),[1] known by her mononymous stage name Jayanthi, is an Indian actress known for her work in Kannada cinema.[2] She is noted for her contributions to different genres of films from the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. She has appeared in over 500 films, including films in the Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi and Marathi languages. She has received seven Karnataka State Film Awards, four times as Best Actress and twice as Best Supporting Actress the President's Medal for Best Actress and two Filmfare Awards for Best Actress. She has been cited as Kannada cinema's "most bold and beautiful" actress by various media outlets, a title for which she has received substantial publicity.[3] The Kannada film industry has honored her with the title "Abhinaya Sharadhe", (Goddess Sharada in acting).

Early life[edit]

Jayanthi was born in Bellary, in the erstwhile Madras Presidency of British India. Her father Balasubramanyam worked as English professor at the St Joseph's College in Bangalore. Her mother was Santhanalakshmi. Jayanthi was the eldest of three siblings and had two younger brothers. Her parents separated when she was young and her mother took the children and moved to Madras. Jayanthi's mother was keen on making her daughter a classical dancer and hence she joined a dance school. Her friend in dance school was the famous Tamil actress Manorama.


Initial struggle[edit]

As a child, Jayanthi went to the studios to see her idol N. T. Rama Rao. He called her and made her sit on his lap. Affectionately, he had asked her whether she would agree to become his heroine and the little girl had merely blushed. The pair would go on later in life to produce successful films such as Jagadeka Veeruni Katha, Kula Gowravam, Kondaveeti Simham and Justice Chowdhury. Jayanthi was ridiculed most of the time as she was plump and could never dance well. During her teens, she had the chance to act in a few Tamil and Telugu movies in bit parts. Jayanthi was shattered after the episode, but promised herself that one day she would prove her worth. Jayanthi's life changed when noted film director Y. R. Swamy spotted her during one of her dance rehearsals and cast her in his film Jenu Goodu after persuading her unrelenting mother who gave in after the former's third visit to her house.[3] He also gave her the stage name.[2] Jayanthi enjoyed a good run in the Kannada Film industry. She has costarred in more than 30 movies with Rajkumar, the doyen of Kannada cinema .

Rise to fame[edit]

Jenu Goodu, Jayanthi's first Kannada film was commercial success. Her next Kannada film as heroine was T. V. Singh Thakur's Chandavalliya Thota, the first film that paired her with Rajkumar. Based on T. R. Subba Rao's novel the film was a huge success and even won the President's Medal for Best Film in Kannada. The next major film that Jayanthi starred in was the 1965 Miss Leelavathi directed by M. R. Vittal in which she played the title role. Considered a film with a "bold theme" in what was seen as the conservative cinema at the time, the film dealt about the influence of parental differences and of a lead heroine who grows up to be a rebel and stands up against convention, refusing marriage, opting to be career-oriented women and with a carefree attitude towards premarital sex. Jayanthi was launched as the glamour-diva in the film, a first for a Kannada film, wearing skirts, T-shirts and nighties. The film was a huge success and catapulted Jayanthi to fame. She is credited for the first Kannada actress to wear a swimsuit on screen, which the producers' first choice for the role had refused to do.[2] The film won Jayanthi the President's award. Jayanthi recalled the occasion in one of her interviews when she received the award from Indira Gandhi (then the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting), who, after giving away the award called back Jayanthi and gave her a kiss and wished her good luck.[4]

Due to her stint in Tamil films from 1962 to 1979 as leading lady, she became nationally famous. She was frequently paired opposite Gemini Ganesan. In Tamil she acted with all major stars including M.G. Ramachandran, Gemini Ganeshan, Muhuraman and Jaishankar. She acted with M. G. Ramachandran in Padagotti and Mugaraasi, with Gemini Ganeshan in Kanna Nalama, Velli Vizha, Punnagai and Iru Kodugal, with Jaishankar in Nil Gavani Kadhali and Kaadhal Paduthum Paadu and Ethir Neechal with Nagesh. She was director K. Balachander's regular actress and they went on to work in films such as Iru Kodugal, Bama Vijayam, Ethir Neechal, Punnagai, Velli Vizha and Kanna Nalama. She acted with Jayalalitha and Manorama in the film Mugaraasi.

She was married to film director Peketi Sivaram for a few years and then the couple separated. During the late 1970s and the 1980s Jayanthi starred in many Kannada movies in lead roles that required a slightly mature actress, often paired with Srinivasa Murthy and Prabhakar.

On March 27, 2018, it was falsely reported by several media houses that actress Jayanthi had died. While her fans took to social media to offer their condolences, her family members refuted the rumors as false. The then 73 year old actress complained of breathing difficulties and was admitted to a private hospital in Bengaluru and was recuperating and responding well to the treatment.[5]

Other works[edit]

In 2009, she gave her voice to an HIV/AIDS education animated software tutorial created by the nonprofit organization TeachAIDS.[6]


Karnataka State Film Awards
Filmfare Awards South

Partial filmography[edit]

Kannada films[edit]

Tamil films[edit]

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Malayalam films[edit]

Telugu films[edit]

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Hindi films[edit]

English shows[edit]

TV Serials[edit]

  • Vasantham (2009-2010) as Mangalam (Tamil)


  1. "Jayanthi". chiloka.com. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Fernandes, Ronald Anil (23 December 2003). "Straight from the Heart:As this month's guest at Maneyangaladalli Mathukathe, cine actress Jayanthi held her audience spellbound with her usual charm". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 6 March 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2006.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ganesh, Deepa (15 April 2011). "Bold and beautiful". The Hindu. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  4. Bharathi, Veena (13 October 2013). "Celebrating a big screen beauty". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 7 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  5. "Kannada actress Jayanthi dead, say reports. Family says she is alive". India Today. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  6. "Celebrated Actress Jayanthi Donates Voice to TeachAIDS Kannada animations". TeachAIDS. 30 September 2009. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2010.

External links[edit]